Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 1911–2011
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then . . . . I contradict myself;
I am large . . . . I contain multitudes.
—Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1855
Founded in 1911 when Yale College graduate Owen Franklin Aldis donated his distinguished library of first editions of American fiction, drama, and poetry to the Yale Library, the Collection of American Literature is one of the most important collections of its kind. In the century following Aldis’s gift, the Collection has continued to grow, building on core areas and expanding to include complementary materials, from individual manuscripts to expansive literary archives, from little magazines and lively ephemera to high-tech artists’ books. The highlights exhibited in Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 1911–2011 reveal areas of bibliographic strength and new development while demonstrating the Collection’s extraordinary richness, eclecticism, and depth. From the colonial period to the present, the Collection celebrates American literature as a living art form with a complex history. Its evolving and vibrant traditions are a subject worthy of rigorous scholarly attention as well as leisurely pursuit for the general reader.